Feb 122016
 

I awoke very late after chasing someone's pet rat all night long!  The furry critter kept getting away from me, so I chased it.  I finally woke up to find myself cuddling one of my furbabes who bears no resemblance to a rat.  Tomorrow is busy with physio and teaching.

Short Takes

Huffington Post  Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy was charged in federal court on Thursday with conspiracy, assault on a federal officer and obstruction of justice in connection with the 2014 standoff on federal land near his ranch.

Bundy was arrested on Wednesday night in Portland, Oregon, near the site of another standoff that previously included his sons.  …

The takeover at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, which began on Jan. 2, was sparked by the return to prison of two Oregon ranchers convicted of setting fires that spread to federal property in the vicinity of the refuge.

The standoff, which was originally led by brothers Ammon and Ryan Bundy, came to a head after the arrest on Wednesday in Portland of their father, Cliven Bundy. 

My first thought, I hope the cases against these characters is rock solid.  In my mind, they have demonstrated that their "rights" supersede those of everyone else.  I guess only time will tell.

Common Dreams — In a move being hailed as both "defiant" and common sense, Democratic lawmakers in the U.S. House on Thursday introduced the "Keep It in the Ground" Act, which would permanently block all new fossil fuel leases on public lands and waters.

"Anyone who does the math of climate change knows we need to keep most fossil fuel underground," said Bill McKibben. (Photo: kris krüg/flickr/cc/with overlay)

The bill, introduced by California Rep. Jared Huffman and cosponsored by 16 colleagues, specifically bars new leases and ends non-producing leases for coal, oil, gas, oil shale, and tar sands on all federal lands, as well as for offshore drilling in the Pacific and Gulf of Mexico. Further, the bill outright prohibits offshore drilling in the Arctic and the Atlantic.

Although this action is sorely overdue, this has about as much chance of suceeding as a snowball in hell with the current Republican dominated Congress.  Hopefully, that dominance won't last forever.

Mother Jones — Ted Nugent is no stranger to mounting outrageous defenses of the gun lobby. But this week, the musician's predictable inflammatory language reached new levels of offensive starting on Monday with the following anti-Semitic image posted to his Facebook page:

ted nugent rant

With a long list of seditious and other questionable acts, Nugent, the Pied Piper of Offensiveness, has outdone himself this time.  I didn't think that was possible!  Thanks to Cal M at Care2, here is a petition to TELL THE NRA: REMOVE TED NUGENT FROM YOUR BOARD OF DIRECTORS.

Common Dreams — The Pentagon budget the Obama administration unveiled this week calls for quadrupling spending on efforts to counter Russia.

The money would move more troops, tanks, and artillery into position near the Russia border. This last Obama budget would also fund another installment in a $1 trillion and 30-year plan to “modernize” our nuclear arsenal with new land-based missiles, bombers, and submarines.  

4. We can’t afford it.
We’re now spending more than the next 13 countries put together, more than three times as much as China, and nine times as much as Russia. Meanwhile the water crisis in Flint, Michigan points to the consequences of our neglect of our country’s infrastructure. According to the National Priorities Project, foregoing the cost of beefing up our nuclear arsenal for one year would enable the U.S. to send nearly 600,000 more students to college for four years. Instead we want to spend more to rekindle the Cold War?

Click through for the other 5 reasons.  The proposed US budget would include funds for the nuclear weapons arsenal. Isn't the US a signatory to the Treaty for the Non Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons?  Yes, and this appears to fly in the face of that treaty.  If the Republicans actually take the time to view the budget proposal, they are likely to start licking their chops.

My Universe

Morning

I you can't go around, and you can't go under, go over but be nice about it!

Maxine

Dedicated to all the Big Mouth award winners and their big mouth friends!

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Feb 112016
 

Although it’s a relatively light day, I do have a lot of paperwork to get done, and I want to get as much rest as I can, because tomorrow is a very busy day.

Jig Zone Puzzle:

Today’s took me 3:38 (average 5:45).  To do it, click here.  How did you do?

Short Takes:

From The Union Leader: The New Hampshire primary lived up to tradition and winnowed a large field of candidates by another two: Chris Christie and Carly Fiorina.

The Republican presidential hopefuls quit the race Wednesday after disappointing finishes in the first-in-the-nation primary.

Good riddance to the Bankrupt Bitch, as some of her own HP employees called her, and worse riddance to…

ChristiePig

From Alternet: Stephen Colbert congratulated Bernie Sanders on his New Hampshire landslide, and overwhelming (86 percent!) youth vote Wednesday night. "It’s like you’re puppy monkey baby," Colbert says, referencing the Super Bowl ad. "Why do you think the young ones like you?"

 

Even if I preferred Hillary, it would be worth supporting Bernie, just to move O’Lielly to Ireland.

From Think Progress: When 12-year-old Tamir Rice was shot and killed by Cleveland police for playing with a toy gun, officers didn’t give him medical attention for four minutes. Even if they’d tried to help, the officers didn’t have a first aid kit.

Now the city is suing the Rice family for a $500 ambulance fee, two months after a grand jury decided not to indict the shooting officer.

On Wednesday, the city filed a claim against the family “for emergency medical services rendered as the decedent’s last dying expense under Ohio Revised Code.”

The Cleveland Republicans responsible for this outrage can take a long, flying you-know-what off a short pier!!!

Cartoon:

0211Cartoon

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Feb 112016
 

It turned out that my physio appointment was today, and not yesterday.  That said, yesterday was still a very busy day and I was so tired that I didn't have the energy for an Open Thread.  I did get to visit my mother for half an hour and sat brushing her hair.  She, like me, has always liked that and found it relaxing.  Today after physio, I had lunch with a friend and then spent some time reading a novel.  Very relaxing!

Short Takes

Huffington Post — The majority of Canadians say they're worried if Donald Trump becomes U.S. president, according to a new poll.

The survey conducted by Leger for Montreal dailies Le Journal de Montréal and Le Devoir asked 1,524 Canadians from across the country about the upcoming U.S. presidential elections.

While Trump was among the most well-known contenders, 70 per cent of Canadians said they held a bad opinion of him. A majority of respondents — 65 per cent — said they were worried about him becoming president.

As I have said before, Canadians do not like this "Ugly American" American.  I cannot call Trump "The Donald" because it feels like I am giving in to his demagoguery!  If he becomes POTUS, I may build the wall along the 49th parallel myself just to keep that rabid fascist at bay.

Five Thirty Eight — Chris Christie’s 2016 presidential campaign had one shining moment: thetripwire he set for Marco Rubio in Saturday’s debate (which Rubio somehow tripped over again and again and again and again).  

Christie otherwise made very little headway in the Republican race, and he ended his campaign Wednesday after receiving just 7 percent of the vote in New Hampshire.

Mr Christie, your cookies crumbled . . . thankfully!

Five Thirty Eight — Carly Fiorina dropped out of the presidential race this afternoon, via Facebook message, a day after her seventh-place finish, with just 4 percent of the vote, in the New Hampshire primary. 

But heading into the late fall, winter and the voting contests of 2016, Fiorina had all but disappeared from the conversation. Her ground game was virtually non-existent;

In her FB post announcing the suspension of her campaign, Mother Jones reports that Fiorina said:

This campaign was always about citizenship—taking back our country from a political class that only serves the big, the powerful, the wealthy, and the well connected.  …  

Our Republican Party must fight alongside these Americans as well. We must end crony capitalism by fighting the policies that allow it to flourish. …

Republicans must stand for conservative principles that lift people up and recognize all Americans have the right to fulfill their God-given potential.

I like to know, what has this Republican been smoking?  

  • "taking back our country from a political class that only serves the big, the powerful, the wealthy…" — Isn't that the definition of a Republican and the party!
  • "We must end crony capitalism…" — Didn't Republicans "invent" crony capitalism?
  • "conservative principles that lift people up … " — Republicans are noteworthy for tearing down anything that serves the average American.

​My personal opinion, Fiorina is a whack job that had no business even being in the race.  I imagine there are some Hewlett Packard employees and investors that are glad she's out of the race.

Mother Jones — On Wednesday, Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced that the Justice Department was filing a lawsuit against Ferguson one day after the city council rejected a proposed settlement that sought to "remedy literally years of systematic deficiencies." The Justice Department spent more than six months negotiating a settlement with local officials after it identified widespread civil rights violations and racial discrimination in the Ferguson Police Department's stops, searches, and arrests. It also alleges that local court proceedings violated the due process of residents. The city council's rejection of the agreement, Lynch said, "leaves us no further choice."

the residents of Ferguson have suffered the deprivation of their constitutional rights – the rights guaranteed to all Americans – for decades.

Conservative intransigence!  When will they learn?

My Universe — 

"Something on my face? What are you even talking about?"

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Feb 102016
 

I’m running late, because I had several tasks to complete this morning, leaving little time to write.  I’m also waiting for a grocery order to arrive and have to put those items away.

Jig Zone Puzzle:

Today’s took me 3:06 (average 5:55).  To do it click here.  How did you do?\

Short Takes:

From NY Times: By law, dating back to 1921, the president of the United States must submit an annual budget request to Congress. On Tuesday, President Obama submitted his eighth and final budget. And like all presidential budgets, it is a statement of values and priorities, a blueprint for turning ideas into policies, a map of where the president wants to lead the country.

This week, even before the president’s budget was released, the Republican chairmen of the budget committees announced they would not even hold hearings with the White House budget director to discuss the proposal.

Their decision is more than a break with tradition. It is a new low in Republican efforts to show disdain for Mr. Obama, which disrespects the presidency and, in the process, suffocates debate and impairs governing.

The dismal consequences of Republican failure to govern has to be blamed on Republicans, not Obama or Democrats.

From The New Yorker: After suffering a poor showing in the New Hampshire primary on Tuesday night, the former Hewlett-Packard C.E.O. Carly Fiorina cheered herself up by firing her entire campaign staff, fired staffers confirm.

Minutes after the returns started coming in, revealing that Fiorina had no chance of making a respectable showing, the former business executive acknowledged that she was “sad at first—but then I realized that every failure is an opportunity, and in this case I had an opportunity to give some people the axe.”

After delivering pink slips to her entire campaign staff, Fiorina said, “I started feeling better already.”

Andy has pegged her heart of stone. People I knew in HP’s research department used to call her the Bankrupt Bitch.

From Crooks and Liars: After the 2016 New Hampshire primaries called Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders the winners, Steve Schmidt came on MSNBC to lend his expert political analysis to explain how this happened. Unfortunately, the former senior John McCain campaign advisor confused Trump’s campaign beliefs with Marco Rubio’s and Rachel Maddow immediately pounced to correct his very flawed opinions.

Barf Bag Alert!!

 

Isn’t it a blessing to have a moderator, who isn’t afraid to call Republicans on their BS?

Cartoon:

0210Cartoon

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Feb 092016
 

Yesterday I felt so tired that I actually fell asleep in my power chair at the medical building, while waiting for the LIFT bus.  However I did make my first four successful transfers, using a quad cane, away from home: to and from the examining couch, and to and from a toilet.  Today, Jeannie, (shower-aide) has come and gone, and Arvilla (PT) is due in thirty minutes.  I feel very tired, and I want to get some rest, as the NH returns are tonight.

Jig Zone Puzzle:

Today’s took me 2:54 (average 4:31).  To do it, click here.  How did you do?

In case you forgot:

0207Broncos24-Panthers10

Woooo Hoooo!!!!

Short Takes:

From Daily Kos: Hurricane Sandy opportunist and all-around overgrown bully Governor Chris Christie has been sitting on a bill that would cut out citizens from the decision process concerning whether or not their drinking water is privatized. Wait no longer, New Jersey. Yesterday, the Garden State’s AWOL governor signed the ironically named “Water Infrastructure Protection Act”—the irony is that it protects water from the people who drink it but not from being obliterated by private interests and the one percent’s whims.

Knowing PIGnocchio, NJ folks are likely to get their drinking water pumped direct from the Atlantic Ocean, New York Harbor, or worse.

From The New Yorker: The former Florida Governor Jeb Bush is hoping to jump-start his lagging Presidential campaign with a new television ad featuring the worst President in U.S. history, campaign aides confirm.

With the crucial New Hampshire primary just hours away, the Bush campaign believes it can finish strong by reminding voters of Jeb’s connection to a man who left the nation in smoldering ruins.

In the ad, which Bush aides are calling “a fantastic closing argument,” Jeb’s ability to keep the United States safe and create peace around the world is praised by the President, whose decisions helped destabilize the Middle East and give rise to ISIS.

Across the state, the ad featuring the worst President in U.S. history is making a powerful impression on voters.

Andy isn’t kidding!! Here’s the ad!

Double Bush Barf Bag Alert!!

Crawford Caligula also brought us 9/11!  Strike Three is soooo toast!!

From NY Times: The former New Hampshire governor John Sununu once said that “Iowa picks corn and New Hampshire picks presidents.”

This year, New Hampshire may not live up to the billing — but it should nonetheless play a big role.

If the polls are anywhere near right Tuesday, Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders will win the state, perhaps in landslides. Yet neither seems especially likely to win the nomination.

This is not to diminish the appeal of Mr. Sanders or Mr. Trump. Last summer, few could have predicted that they would be leading in every New Hampshire poll by at least seven percentage points during the final week of the race.

Go, Bernie, Go! Stop, Hairball, Stop!

Cartoon:

0209Cartoon

In today’s Republican Party, he would be classified as moderate.

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Feb 092016
 

I spent about 2 hours today tutoring Jonathan in math and English.  The rest of the day was laid back.  Tomorrow is very busy with physio and meetings at my mother's care facility.  I'll see her for a few minutes between meetings but that will be it.

Short Takes

The Atlantic — This afternoon, in announcing her support for removing the Confederate flag from the capitol grounds, South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley asserted that killer Dylann Roof had “a sick and twisted view of the flag” which did not reflect “the people in our state who respect and in many ways revere it.” If the governor meant that very few of the flag’s supporters believe in mass murder, she is surely right. But on the question of whose view of the Confederate Flag is more twisted, she is almost certainly wrong.

Roof’s belief that black life had no purpose beyond subjugation is “sick and twisted” in the exact same manner as the beliefs of those who created the Confederate flag were “sick and twisted.” The Confederate flag is directly tied to the Confederate cause, and the Confederate cause was white supremacy. This claim is not the result of revisionism. It does not require reading between the lines. It is the plain meaning of the words of those who bore the Confederate flag across history. These words must never be forgotten.  

Confederate Monument Arlington Natl Cemetery

It was in South Carolina that the Civil War began, when the Confederacy fired on Fort Sumter. The state’s casus belli was neither vague nor hard to comprehend:

…A geographical line has been drawn across the Union, and all the States north of that line have united in the election of a man to the high office of President of the United States, whose opinions and purposes are hostile to slavery. He is to be entrusted with the administration of the common Government, because he has declared that that “Government cannot endure permanently half slave, half free,” and that the public mind must rest in the belief that slavery is in the course of ultimate extinction. This sectional combination for the submersion of the Constitution, has been aided in some of the States by elevating to citizenship, persons who, by the supreme law of the land, are incapable of becoming citizens; and their votes have been used to inaugurate a new policy, hostile to the South, and destructive of its beliefs and safety.

As the Late Unpleasantness stretched from the predicted months into years, the very reason for the Confederacy’s existence came to threaten its diplomatic efforts. Fighting for slavery presented problems abroad, and so Confederate diplomats came up with the notion of emphasizing “states rights” over “slavery”

Click through for this long but interesting piece from June 2015.  Too many times, I have heard dyed-in-the-wool southerners say that the Civil War was fought over states' rights.  Around the time this article was written, Republican politicians in South Carolina and elsewhere were beating that states' rights drum.  But here are historical records that make clear that the Civil War, from the South's perspective, was indeed about the retention and expansion of slavery. Further it was about white supremacy.

Raw StoryFrom the files of "Well that just happened!"

Two men with mirrors and a wooden cross interrupted a campaign event in Raymond, New Hampshire to perform an exorcism on Ted Cruz on Monday, saying that the Republican presidential candidate was “possessed by a demon.”

According to The Dallas Morning News, Cruz had just finished his stump speech when the men began shouting at the candidate.

“Ted Cruz look in the mirror and let the evil spirit depart!” one man exclaimed. “He’s possessed by a demon!”

Click through for the rest and a short video.  I don't think the exorcism worked because Cruz is still a nasty piece of work.

Foreign Policy — That could be good news for Democrats and a serious threat to Republican efforts to hold the Senate. Even without Trump and Cruz, Republicans faced an unfavorable electoral map in 2016: They hold only a four-seat majority as they defend 24 seats, many of which Obama won in 2012, versus Democrats’ 10. It’s almost a mirror image of what Democrats faced in the 2014 midterms,

But even former New Hampshire Gov. John H. Sununu, who has known Ayotte for more than a dozen years and campaigned for her first Senate bid in 2010, was pessimistic. “I don’t think anybody’s going to have an easy victory this time around,” he told FP.

Ayotte doesn’t seem to have much patience with that Trump-style of campaigning, where rhetoric and gimmick replaces substance on national security and bipartisanship is a dirty word. Asked whether she can run on non-partisanship in this hyper-partisan climate, she said, “The resounding answer is going to be yes.”

“And I’m afraid that if a Donald Trump or a Cruz is at the top of the ticket, Republicans will lose a lot of seats, and it will make Kelly’s race extremely tough.”

With the Senate Republican majority at stake in November and two presidential hopefuls that may mean chaos in New Hampshire, Kelly Ayotte has her work cut out for her.  Of course, I support the Democrat, Hassan.

My Universe — h/t Ted W and Carol B, Care2

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Feb 082016
 

This probably won’t be posted, until after I return from my podiatry appointment this afternoon.  I’m in hurry up mode while preparing to leave.

Jig Zone Puzzle:

Today’s took me 3:15 (average 4:53).  To do it, click here.  How did you do?

Ultimate Religious Ecstasy:

0207Broncos24-Panthers10

Woooo Hoooo!!!!

Short Takes:

From Daily Kos: Outspoken musician and activist Natalie Maines of the Dixie Chicks once stated during a 2003 World Tour that she was basically ashamed to be from the same state as then-president George W. Bush. The backlash from her statement was incredible. The well-spun music of the multi-platinum Grammy winning trio was immediately pulled from most radio stations. The all-female band was lambasted by the media, conservative pundits, and disloyal country music fans. More horrendously, all three received death threats for practicing their freedom of speech. The whole experience took a toll on the group (Natalie Maines, Emily Robison and Martie Maguire), and years later they decided to take a hiatus from touring together…

,,,This experience did not silence the anti-war activist who today continues to speak her mind and truth as she continues her solo career. Her latest comment this past weekend, on Twitter, lashes out at Texas senator and GOP presidential candidate, Ted Cruz. By way of Living Blue In Texas and Ashley Iasimone with Billboard Magazine, Maines tweets:

“Just so you know….I'm ashamed Ted Cruz is from America,” Maines wrote on Twitter late Saturday night (Jan. 23).

With her tweet she posted side-by-side images of former President Dwight D. Eisenhower and Cruz.

0208Maines

Here’s some video.

Kudos once again!!

From YouTube:

Woooo Hoooo!!!!

From NY TimesAs Democrats consider Hillary Clinton’s candidacy for the second time, women are wrestling with a difficult question: whether they have an obligation to get behind someone who is closer than anyone has ever been to becoming the first female president.

And with her opponent, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, outdrawing her in support among young women, Mrs. Clinton’s candidacy has turned into a generational clash, one that erupted this weekend when two feminist icons, Madeleine Albright and Gloria Steinem, called on young women who supported Mr. Sanders to essentially grow up and get with the program.

 

My estimation of Gloria just plummeted. I'm all for a first woman President: Elizabeth Warren!

Cartoon:

0208Cartoon

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Feb 082016
 

Well, it seems that after a 2 day rest, my DVD player works again.  I had tried quite a few DVDs and all were "bad disc".  Right now, only one of those discs is not coöperating.  Go figure.  I arrived home earlier than normal as they put mum to bed at 18:30, right after dinner.  She was out cold before the aid left the room, but I went and sat by her bed for about an hour anyway.  She looks so at peace, relaxed, and thankfully in no pain when she is sleeping.

Short Takes

Alternet — In 2015, Young released his 36th studio album, The Monsanto Years, a concept-based criticism of multinational agrochemical and biotechnology giant Monsanto, the world’s biggest seed company. A collaboration with Willie Nelson's sons Lukas and Micah, the album also condemns other industrial agriculture giants like Syngenta, Dow, Dupont and Bayer — corporations that, like Monsanto, have garnered control of global seed production.

By creating patents for genetically engineered seed, these firms have taken away farmers’ right to save their own seeds.

“Monsanto wants to sell the farmers the seeds and they want to license the seeds,” said Bob McFarland of the California State Grange. “So the farmers can only use those seeds for one cycle, then they have to go back to Monsanto and buy the seeds again.”

Click through for the complete article.  Following are 2 petitions for your signatures.  Of course there are many, many more out there.

Help STOP GMO's from being produced    U.S. GMO Foods Petition

Common Dreams — 

Warren’s timing, judgment and courage are all now being challenged.  It’s not enough to be independent, articulate, and passionate from the bully pulpit.  Achieving leadership’s full capacity inevitably involves taking a stand that is by nature risky, but all the more necessary because one’s deepest convictions will not allow any other course of action.  One feels compelled within to seize the moment.  Whatever the risks of taking a stand, the risks of letting the moment pass are greater.  However, unconventional the action required is, that action remains the most obviously impactful.

sanders-warren

If destiny offers someone like Warren the opportunity to swing the tide of the nation toward a more honest and just governance and they hesitate, well then ultimately they weren’t the leader we hoped for.  Warren has had this opportunity served up to her by Bernie Sanders in the most admirable way.  There is no room for her to pretend the moment of decision is not upon her.

Click through for this opinion piece.  I agree that Bernie and Elizabeth Warren are a good fit.  I also think that she should take a stand on just who she supports.  However, I didn't think that decisions about VP candidates were made until after the nominees were chosen.

Mother Jones — At a campaign stop in Henniker, New Hampshire, last week, Ted Cruz was asked what he'd do as president to combat climate change. Cruz's answer—an eight-minute rant that you can watch below—was essentially that he would do nothing. Because global warming isn't happening. It's "the perfect pseudoscientific theory" to justify liberal politicians' quest to expand "government power over the American citizenry," he said.

Like Cruz, the two GOP front-runners in the state—Donald Trump and Marco Rubioreject mainstream climate science. Trump has repeatedly called global warming a "hoax," and Rubio has said, "I do not believe that human activity is causing these dramatic changes to our climate the way these scientists are portraying it." John Kasich, who's been rising in the New Hampshire polls in recent weeks, has made a number of contradictory comments about climate change.

Barf Bag Alert!!!      Barf Bag Alert!!!      Barf Bag Alert!!!      Barf Bag Alert!!!      Barf Bag Alert!!!    

Listen to Cruz's rant.  I had to laugh when he tried to make the point that liberals changed the wording from global warming to climate change when they realised that the globe isn't warming.  As head of the senate science committee he called scientists to testify about climate change and the anthropogenic effects.  What he doesn't say is that he cherry-picked the scientists so that he got what he wanted.  Republicans are such idiots when it comes to climate change.

Alternet myths are built on half-truths, white lies and downright fabrications. So it is with the American presidency. Presidents lie, even our most admired ones. Some of them were really good at it, like Franklin Roosevelt. Others, like shifty-eyed Richard Nixon, were just pathological.

richard m nixon

When we got a president who promised never to lie to us, as Jimmy Carter did in 1976, many thought he was not particularly effective and voters tossed him out on his ear in 1980, for a master Machiavellian prince named Ronald Reagan. Republicans pounced on President Obama when, pushing the Affordable Healthcare Act, he promised Americans that if we wanted to keep our current health insurance, we could. That turned out to be not completely true, and surely Obama knew it even as the words were coming out of his lips. Still, for President Obama, the end—a broader, fairer healthcare system—justified the means. His signature accomplishment in office, Obamacare, might not have passed had he been totally forthright.

Click through to see who the biggest liars were.  It has always bugged me that one of my family names is Nixon.  In the past I'd always add "no relationship to Tricky Dicky".

My Universe — 

5271c5b42ac8a0ae3edfbaf06fd7989a

Pillow talk in the animal kingdomPillow talk!

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Feb 072016
 

Today is the highest Holy Day in the Church of the Ellipsoid Orb, so on a scale of one to ten I plan to be bad… very bad!!  Pizza order!!  Yum!!  Tomorrow I have a podiatry appointment, so I’ll be posting an Open Thread, at most.  Go Broncos!!

Jig Zone Puzzle:

Today’s took me 4:35 (average 6:51).  To do it, click here,  How did you do?

Short Takes:

From Daily Kos (classic 6/2014): Multi-millionaire Nick Hanauer is no dummy. He sees the writing on the wall.

I’d strongly suggest you read this entire piece titled "The pitchforks are coming . . . for us Plutocrats"

And what do I see in our future now?

I see pitchforks.

At the same time that people like you and me are thriving beyond the dreams of any plutocrats in history, the rest of the country—the 99.99 percent—is lagging far behind. The divide between the haves and have-nots is getting worse really, really fast. In 1980, the top 1 percent controlled about 8 percent of U.S. national income. The bottom 50 percent shared about 18 percent. Today the top 1 percent share about 20 percent; the bottom 50 percent, just 12 percent.

But the problem isn’t that we have inequality. Some inequality is intrinsic to any high-functioning capitalist economy. The problem is that inequality is at historically high levels and getting worse every day. Our country is rapidly becoming less a capitalist society and more a feudal society. Unless our policies change dramatically, the middle class will disappear, and we will be back to late 18th-century France. Before the revolution.

And so I have a message for my fellow filthy rich, for all of us who live in our gated bubble worlds: Wake up, people. It won’t last.

Today this piece is even more relevant than it was then. Click through to read it in its entirety.

From NY Times: An opportunity to pass the most significant federal criminal justice reform in a generation may be slipping away — despite the tireless efforts of many top Republicans and Democrats in Congress, as well as a rare exhortation from President Obama during last month’s State of the Union address.

The bill, known as the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act of 2015, is the product of years of negotiation over how best to roll back the imprisonment spree of the past four decades, a period in which the federal prison population grew from just under 25,000 to more than 195,000.

Among other features, the act would reduce absurdly long mandatory minimum sentences for many nonviolent drug crimes, give judges more control over the terms of punishment and provide inmates with more opportunities to get out early by participating in rehabilitation programs….

…So what’s the problem? There are two, in fact — and both are serious threats to the bill’s chances of passage.

First, some congressional Republicans now say they will approve the bill only if it includes an across-the-board change in federal law that would make corporations and their executives harder to prosecute for environmental or financial crimes by imposing a new intent, or “mens rea,” standard on these crimes…

…It is already very difficult to prosecute corporate wrongdoers. A report released late last month by Senator Elizabeth Warren documented 20 cases from 2015 alone in which corporations or their executives broke the law but got off with little or no punishment, even when people died as a result of the violations. Speaking from the Senate floor on Wednesday, Ms. Warren called the push for the new intent provision “shameful because we’re already way too easy on corporate lawbreakers.”

The other obstacle to the reform bill’s passage is old-fashioned scaremongering about the release of “violent criminals” into the streets. This is simply not true: Most of the provisions are focused on low-level, nonviolent drug offenders, who make up nearly half of all federal inmates.

Senator Ted Cruz is leading this attack on the new bill. Yet just last year he called mandatory minimum drug sentences “unfair and ineffective,” and he sponsored reforms that would have reduced those sentences even more than the current bill does. Running for president on a hard-right platform has, apparently, changed his mind.

The sentencing reform legislation is not perfect, but it represents remarkable progress in what is often a harsh, oversimplified debate about crime and punishment in America. It should not be weakened, either by narrowing its reach or by sneaking in an unrelated mens rea provision.

The problem with this bill is that it doesn’t go anywhere near far enough but between Koch sucking members of Congress and TRUS "Uranus Inspector" Ted, we probably lose even this pitifully small step forward.

From Alternet: Bernie Sanders’ much-anticipated cameo on Saturday Night Live along-side host Larry David did not disappoint.

This is not the video included with the article. That has been taken down. I hope this one fares better.

Which Bernie is Bernier?

Cartoon:

0207Cartoon

After the game!

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Feb 072016
 

It has been a busy day today mostly doing research for two posts.  I managed a few small errands and came home to relax only to find my DVD player bit the dust.  It is one of those "turn it off, it's fine, turn it on, it's broken" kind of deals. I wonder if Mr Negotiator (Trump) could get me a good deal for a new one?  Tomorrow afternoon, I will be going to see my mother so there may not be a Squatch's Open Thread.

Short Takes

BuzzFeedhat-tip Monka B, Care2 — So, it seems some non-Americans have a few questions about what’s going on in American politics today.

1. First things first: In an American accent, “Iowa caucus” is pronounced “Iowa cock-us” which is also kind of how it feels.

First things first: In an American accent, "Iowa caucus" is pronounced "Iowa cock-us" which is also kind of how it feels.

Scott Olson / Getty Images

“Cock us today at 6:30pm.”

2. Iowa is the first state to vote in the seemingly endless process of the two parties in the US choosing their candidates for president, which at this stage feels like it’s been happening for about 57 years.

Iowa is the first state to vote in the seemingly endless process of the two parties in the US choosing their candidates for president, which at this stage feels like it's been happening for about 57 years.

Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

If the nomination process is like an army on a long, grim death march through a never-ending winter, this is the bit where they start eating the horses.

Click through for the rest of this hilarious take on the Iowa Caucuses as explained for the Brits.

University of British Columbia — Gustafsen Lake or Ts’Peten, a region close to 100 Mile House in British Columbia, in Secwepemec (Shuswap) territory, was the location of a stand-off in 1995 between the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and sundancers and their helpers (Sundancers) conducting religious ceremony that lasted more than thirty days. Gustafsen Lake has been called the “largest paramilitary operation in Canadian history."

The Gustafsen Lake Stand-off stemmed from the longstanding conflict over Aboriginal land occupied by non-Aboriginal settlers without having first signed treaties. People who came to Gustafsen Lake for the Sundance chose to stay in defense of the land as events unfolded during the ceremonial period. They said the land is unceded and unsurrendered to the Crown. The RCMP and government representatives attempted to remove the Sundancers, or “Ts'Peten Defenders,” as tensions escalated between the Sundancers, a local rancher, government agents, and Aboriginal leaders who disagreed with the Sundancers' tactics and legal and religious views.

The siege at Gustafsen Lake has become a controversial event in Canadian history due to government militarization, RCMP smear campaigns, and successful efforts to spread misinformation about the Sundancers. The media were strategically excluded from all but official RCMP accounts of events, resulting in highly skewed reporting. Supporters of the “Ts’Peten Defenders” view the stand-off at Gustafsen Lake as symbolic of the continued efforts of the state to forcibly and violently assimilate Indigenous peoples. Gustafsen Lake is largely underrepresented in mainstream recollections of British Columbian and Canadian histories.

Gustafsen Lake occurred as another militarized stand-off was underway at Ipperwash/Aazhoodena.

Image from "Showdown at Gustafsen Lake," First Nations Drum. Reprinted in Smoke Signals from the Heart (2004) and used with permission from Totem Pole Books.

The Conflict

Starting in 1989 as part of a multi-year period cycle of ceremonial commitment, Sundancers would assemble every summer at a specific site near Gustafsen Lake, or Ts’Peten, to conduct the Sundance. The site was in ancestral Secwepemc territories and was prepared and respected as sacred by the Sundancers under the guidance of the designated Faithkeeper and camp spiritual leader Percy Rosette. The site was encompassed by grazing rights held by a non-Aboriginal American rancher, Lyle James, who used the land as cow pasture. James and the Sundancers had reached an agreement that the Sundancers would assemble at the Sundance arbour area every summer for the Sundance cycle period, provided they would not erect any permanent ceremonial structures.

In 1995, however, tensions escalated between the rancher and the Sundancers. The Sundancers had erected a fence to keep James’s cattle from defecating within the Sundance ceremonial arbour site, and James was not happy. James requested that the camp occupants leave, to which they explained they were unable to do until the Sundance was complete.  The Sundancers claimed that to breach or interrupt a multi-year Sundance commitment is a very serious matter. The Sundancers recall one night when cowboys on horseback rode through the camp and aggressively insulted and harassed them. Two RCMP officers, Native people chosen in keeping with the sensitive nature of the ceremony and prepared site, were then stationed at the Sundance to observe and keep the peace. The RCMP held the position that the conflict was of a personal nature between James and the Sundancers, and therefore they would observe, and not become directly involved. Approximately twenty to thirty of the Sundancers, which included non-dancing participants, stayed on: men, women and children. The Sundance itself went ahead without incident.

The conflict between James and the Sundancers raised larger questions about the land and outstanding Aboriginal title; The Sundancers declared the land unceded and unsurrendered, particularly as to the nature of the interest in the land that James had obtained from the Crown.  As time went on, the RCMP observers suggested that the Sundancers should vacate the site to avoid any further conflict with James. The Sundancers responded that they would not leave until their rights to the land were recognized, some saying they were prepared to die if necessary to protect the land. The Sundancers were concerned about the need to continue to use the site for their religious and spiritual purposes so as to complete the commitment period and Sundance cycle.

Click through for the rest.  Although this happened over twenty years ago, the issues raised have not been dealt with by the Canadian federal government.  Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, as part of his platform, wants to bring about new relationships and respect with and for Aboriginal peoples.  As such, the Ts'Peten Defence Committee has started a petition on Change.org calling for a National Inquiry into the Ts’Peten/Gustafsen Lake Standoff 1995.  I hope you'll sign the petition with me.

For those on Care2, I have also posted this petition at Gustafsen Lake Standoff Petition.

Salon — Donald Trump gave an interview this week all of his potential supporters should watch. In his own words, Trump lays bare the very reasons why he would be such a disastrous choice for president.  

The topic turns to President Obama’s recent nuclear agreement with Iran.  Trump unwittingly displays for all to see that he simply does not understand the most basic elements of the agreement.

Trump proclaims his familiar boast that he is the best deal-maker ever and the best negotiator ever, and that the Obama administration completely botched the negotiation with Iran.  And then Trump graced us with an inside account of how he, as a master deal-maker, would have negotiated the agreement with Iran and obtained a much better outcome for America.

Primarily, Trump would have spared America from having to pay $150 billion to Iran.  

Unfortunately, however, there is one little problem with Trump’s entire analysis. And this problem is that the $150 billion was, in fact, readily available. The reason it was readily available is because all of this money actually belonged to Iran, not to America.  This was Iran’s own money.  This was Iranian money that America had seized and frozen. 

Following is an interview of Trump by CNN's Anderson Cooper where Trump demonstrates his lack of knowlege of the Iran Nuclear Deal.  You would think that a potential presidential candidate would be a little more knowlegable. Even I know that those were Iranian funds!

 

My Universe

I forgets nothing. I wait patiently. - Cat

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Feb 062016
 

Yesterday I was completely exhausted.  This morning I did research, and felt so tired afterwards that I snaffled-up one of the naps Lona left and went back to bed for three hours.  Then I cooked pork chops, cornbread stuffing, and mixed veggies for four meals and froze three.  Then I made and ate a chicken sandwich and a mandarin for lunch.  Tomorrow is the highest holy day in the Church of the Ellipsoid Orb.  My Broncos are meeting the Panthers.  Even though the Panthers are fellow felines, may the Orb bless my Broncos with its divine light.

Jig Zone Puzzle:

Today’s took me 2:28 (average 4:26).  Birdie for the hungry kitty?  To do it, click here. How did you do?

Short Takes:

From Daily Kos: Because nothing says “I care about you” more than making it a little more affordable to drink unsafe water, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder has presented a plan to provide $30 million in water bill discounts and retroactive credits for Flint citizens. Huffington Post reports:

Snyder, a Republican, will make the case for the $30 million plan when he presents his budget next week for the coming fiscal year. Pending the state legislature’s approval, his proposal would lower residents’ bills by about 30 percent until water is safe to drink, and credit their past bills going back to April 2014. Former residents would also be eligible for refunds.

“I agree with Flint residents, that they should not have to pay for water they cannot drink,” Snyder said in a statement.

[…]

Flint’s average monthly water and sewer bill was $140 in 2014, much higher than neighboring cities, according to the Flint Journal. Under Snyder’s proposal, a family paying $140 would get about a $40 credit.

Sturmbannführer Snyder is such a compassionate soul… NOT He’s a typical greedy Republican, who wants to charge poor people $100+ per month for poison for their children!

From The New Yorker: Scandal rocked Bernie Sanders’s Presidential campaign on Friday as the candidate was forced to admit that he received free checking from several big banks.

In a press conference in Manchester, New Hampshire, a chastened Sanders acknowledged that, over the past two decades, he received free checking from Bank of America, Citibank, and JPMorgan Chase in exchange for maintaining a five-hundred-dollar minimum balance.

“I should have acknowledged my relationship with these banks earlier,” a subdued Sanders told reporters. “For that, I am sorry.”

The Clinton campaign immediately seized on the revelation, with one senior Clinton aide alleging that Sanders’s cozy relationship with the banks “effectively strips him of the label ‘progressive.’ ”

Dang Andy!! Free Checking?!!? How could Bernie do such a thing?11? Surprised smile Winking smile

From Think Progress: Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) has been offering increasingly tough talk on immigration as he steadily gains on Republican frontrunner Donald Trump in New Hampshire ahead of the state’s first-in-the-nation primary on February 9.

As Trump has won over angry crowds across the state with speeches linking immigration to crime and terrorism, Rubio has begun to mimic his hard-line stance.

“The first thing we must do is make sure ISIS never gets into the United States using our immigration system,” he told a crowd in Laconia on Wednesday. He added that, if elected, he would hire 20,000 new Border Patrol agents, finish 700 miles of fences and walls along the U.S./Mexico border, and strip federal funding from “sanctuary cities” like Los Angeles, New York City, and Washington, D.C. Rubio also blasted the current system for legal immigration based on family reunification, saying that “maybe that worked okay in the 1950s,” but he would institute a system based solely on work skills.

You can count on the Latino hating Latino, Border Booter, to embody Republican bigotry.

Cartoon:

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Feb 062016
 

Well here it is . . . Friday!  I was out most of the day teaching English to Lucia.  Jonathan got 100% on his math homework and he has quite a bit to do for Tuesday.  I am very proud of him!  I also helped him with a socials assignment, specifically his English writing skills.  All the kids need help that way and take special language arts classes because English is their 2nd language even though most of them were born in Canada.  Monday is a provincial statutory holiday so the kids will be home.  I agreed to help Jonathan again on Monday.  Loliyo, Jonathan's 9 year old sister, needs some help with math and English too so we are devising a programme for her.  There's no rest for the wicked, but yes Lona, I am trying to watch my time.

Short Takes

Huffington Post — Islamophobia is real.  And it's not going anywhere.

Islamophobia

After last year's terror attacks in Paris and mass shooting in San Bernardino, California — and amidst a surge in anti-Muslim rhetoric from U.S. politicians — reports about Muslims in America facing violence, harassment, intimidation and bigotry have become omnipresent. Many Muslims say Islamophobia is worse now than it's ever been — even worse than it was after 9/11.

Islamophobia in the US is rampant, and IMO, unjustifiably so.  Many people go on about Sharia law and how they think it is taking over US law, but they are quite satisfied to live with Biblical law, or at least their version of it, and subject all people, including non Christians, to it.  Isn't that a double standard?  It is to me.  The 1st amendment to the constitution guarantees freedom of religion and the separation of church and state.  Leave religion in the home and the place of worship.  Huff Post has committed to documenting instances of Islamophobia during 2016.  Click through to read the incidences of Islamophobia for January 2016.

Alternet — You know that “TrusTed” logo?   The one with TRUS and TED merged, yet separated via different colors?  

Turns out that when you Google “TRUS”, the logo at once becomes hilarious and hilariously appropriate . . . 

Click through for the reason Cruz's logo is so damned funny and appropriate.  Sorry TC, I know we agreed on restraint, but I couldn't help myself!  I was busting a gut laughing so wanted to share.

Truthout — Across America, corporate interests are taking aim at local government.

With Congress gridlocked and a majority of state legislatures controlled by right-wing interests, cities have become laboratories of democracy for progressive policies like a higher minimum wage, LGBTQ protections, or parental leave.

A demonstrator displays a flag decrying corporate spending in American political elections in front of the Waukesha Convention Center on July, 13, 2015, in Waukesha, Wisconsin. (Photo via Shutterstock)

In response, corporate interests and groups like the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) have increasingly been turning to state "preemption" measures – some of them unprecedentedly aggressive – to override an array of progressive policy gains at the city or county level.

"2015 saw more efforts to undermine local control on more issues than any year in history," said Mark Pertschuk, director of the watchdog group Preemption Watch.

So which is it . . . government of the people, by the people and for the people OR government of the corporations, by the corporations and for the corporations?  With 2010's Supreme Court decision, Citizens United, it would seem the latter.  It certainly bears out that for there to be progressive reforms, the American people must start by changing local politics and moving up.  Changing local, state and federal representation can be done concurrently, but it still takes time to get all the ducks lined up.

My Universe — 

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TGIF 5

fun1_zpsc5947875Happy Friday . . . and an even happier weekend!

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